Saturday, November 22, 2014

We Crawl v.2014

One of my favourite events in our neighbourhood is the East Side Culture Crawl - the annual visual arts festival that sees hundreds of artists on Vancouver's east side open their studios to the public over an extended weekend. This is the 17th year of the Crawl and over 450 artists are scheduled to participate over the weekend.

I always find that the Friday night is the best night to wander around the main venues - like Parker Place and ARC - because Saturday and Sunday can get downright overwhelming with the crowds (which has to be seen as a good thing), but Boo had to work. Over the years, Mr. D. has been a regular partner but he wasn't available either this year. Luckily, Elzee was free and was game. Turns out that she'd never attended the Crawl before; so, introducing her to the fun was going to be a neat way to take in the event this year.

Being an artist driven event, the Crawl certainly boasts a bohemian feel but even they can't pull off an occasion that allows you to buy a glass a wine and wander around the various studios with it. As such, we just had to bring our own to-go mug.

1803.  2011 Bodega Renacer - Punto Final Reserva Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

I figured an easy drinking, cocktail kind of wine would be the way to go and, since it was a dark and wet kind of night, I went with a bolder bottle. I was introduced to Renacer at the Vancouver International Wine Festival four or five years ago and I was quite glad to see them attend again this year as it allowed me to pick up their Reserve Malbec. Their regular Malbec is regularly found on our government liquor store shelves but the Reserva isn't seen so often.

This was a big mouthful of dark fruit and it was quite structured; so, it wasn't like Elzee and I were chugging it back - despite the size of our coffee mugs cum wine glasses. Chances are our glasses didn't offer up the best nuances that the nose might normally offer but it definitely helped with the flow of the evening.

Good thing that we only had the one bottle. Who knows what I might have been tempted to buy had the pursestrings been lubricated that little bit more. I quite liked the blue and black piece by @Carla_Tak in the bottom left of the collage above but it was a fairly large piece and Boo and I have run out of wall space. It was interesting that the wine photo was taken with another, smaller piece by Carla that I'd picked up a few years back on the Crawl.

Elzee quite enjoyed herself and said that she'd be more than willing to attend in the years to come - regardless of whether I bring the wine or not.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

#BCWineChat - Try Something New

Seems like I can barely make time to get the odd blog post out, let alone find time to play with everyone on Twitter or social media as much as I might like to. Once in awhile though, I'm able to join the Twitterverse for a BCWineChat on Wednesday nights. This week's topic was a live tasting tweet-up where participants were urged to find a bottle of BC wine that they've never tried before.

Given the high percentage of BC wines that we open in our household, trying a new producer can be a bit of task - even with the proliferation of new wineries that continually seem to be popping up.

I happened to have a bottle that I'd been waiting to try since picking it up following the BC Wine Appreciation Society's Bus Tour last year.

1802.  2012 Lariana Cellars Viognier (Okanagan Valley VQA)

This Viognier was the first release from Lariana Cellars, a boutique winery that has the privilege of calling itself the Okanagan's southernmost winery. Their property is found right at the Canada-U.S. border. Indeed, in trying to reach the winery, you have to be careful that you make the turn and avoid heading into the States.

I was looking forward to trying this Viognier because everything I'd read or heard about Lariana had been very complimentary.

The winery is operated by Carol and Dan Scott and half their 10-acre property still remains a lakeside campground. Carol Scott's family had owned the campground since the 1960's and Ms. Scott's father had also been involved in a vineyard a little further up the valley on Black Sage Road. When the Scott's took over the campground property, the current vineyard was a fruit orchard. In 2007, the fruit trees were replaced with grapevines and, after a couple of years of selling their grapes to other wineries, they decided to take the plunge and produce their own wines.

In looking into the wine a bit, I saw that the Scott's had engaged the gathered wisdom that is Senka Tenant - one of the originators of Black Hills and one of BC's most iconic wines, Nota Bene, and the current operator of TerraVista Cellars. I've long been a fans of Senka's wines. So, that only added to the cachet of Lariana. Added to that, as mentioned, the release of 2012 Viognier was met with great response and the exuberance continued for the 2013 vintage where one local scribe, Daenna Van Mulligan (The Wine Diva), declared that it was "most likely British Columbia's best Viognier."

With all that going for the wine, I was looking forward to giving the wine a go with #BCWineChat. The introduction of Lariana to the evening's Twitter discussion certainly seemed to echo the enthusiasm otherwise displayed. Only problem was that the wine, at least for me, just didn't deliver on all that zeal. It might have been the bottle that I had, but I didn't notice all the vibrant aromas and flavours that I'd been reading about. If I hadn't known what the wine was, I doubt that I'd even thought of Viognier as a possibility - and I tend to find Viognier to be quite a distinctive varietal.

The good news was that Boo really enjoyed the wine, vibrant or not - and that will likely mean we'll give Lariana another go should I run across some of their limited production again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

An "Eye-Cathcing" Red

1801.  N.V. Eye Chart Wines - Red Wine Blend (California)

This was a leftover from Vixen's birthday party last night and I didn't really know anything about it. I'll admit that, with this "eye-catching" label (sorry, I stole the pun from a fact sheet on the wine), I was expecting this to be a basic, brand wine with tons of fruit and residual sugar to catch that non-wine-drinking market and mimic critter wines while leaving the critters off the label. It was much tastier.

Eye Chart is a "second collaboration" between Joel Gott and Dave Phinney, a couple of California winemakers that are known for side projects that involve regions from around the world. From what I can gather, there's a relationship with Trinchero Family Estates as well, Trinchero being the folks behind The Show wines that have done well in the Vancouver market and Phinney founded Orin Swift Cellars, producers of The Prisoner - another popular label.

This project is quite the mixed bag of all things Californian. The Red Wine Blend features Cab Sauv, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Merlot that is sourced from Napa, Sonoma, Lodi and Mendocino. Being a non-vintage wine, the flavour profile should be a consistent one. So, if you like it - it's still big and fruit forward - you should always be able to go back, grab a bottle and not notice much different.

A bit more than many of the critter wines (it rings in at around $20-25 around here), it will be interesting to see if it continues to show up at other parties as we near the holiday season.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Two, Two Landmarks In One

As you'll note if you scroll down the blog through the more recent posts, I've taken some literary licence and jumped over a bunch of bottles that make up this 2001 Bottle quest. I promise you all the "missing" bottles were opened - and finished. I've just decided to try and stay a little more current AND flesh out those missing posts when I get a chance.

Part of the reason for doing so, was that I'd kind of lost track of what number I was at in my tally. A little sleuthing revealed that another landmark in the blog's tally had come and gone without me knowing it. Luckily, my #1800 bottle was befitting of that landmark number but I'm sure I was only so fortuitous because we were celebrating a landmark that night - my little sis, Vixen, was turning (ahem) 39+ (again) and we had a little surprise soirée for the young lass.

Despite the fact that she'd had a the biggest party of her life a couple of months back when she got married, she wanted a big party for her birthday. I told her that she shouldn't look to me because she'd exhausted that account when she "demanded" that we throw her a Jack & Jill shower before the wedding. She was so mopey though that I told her, if no one else threw her a party, I'd have her and Big Trucker over for dinner. Since we'd been talking about the possibility of have her friends, The Guru (as in wine) and Bride of Frank-n-Wine, over as well, she arranged for them to attend when it became apparent that there wasn't going to be any other party.

The only "problem" with the surprise plan was that Vixen was expecting a big dinner and hadn't eaten all day. Luckily, since we have neither the space nor the budget to throw a dinner party for two dozen folks, we were ready to keep a sufficient array of hors d'oeuvres going through the evening. Otherwise, Vixen was going to be a helluva hooched little sister. And, at her age, the morning after recoveries aren't as quick as they used to be. With all the kitchen and hosting duties, I didn't have time to drink all that many wines during the party - despite the large number of corks that were pulled.

In between kitchen and bar duty, overhearing conversations on Botox and everyone telling stories on how close folks had come to giving away the surprise element of the evening, I did manage to return to my glass enough to try these four wines:

1797.  2008 Desert Hills Cabernet Merlot (VQA Okanagan Valley)

A number of Desert Hills wines have been added to The List over the years. Having Burrowing Owl and Black Hills as neighbours on the Black Sage Bench, they see their share of visitors at the winery and that's how we first ran across them all those years ago. This was a bottle brought by one of the party guests though.

I often find Black Hills' big reds to be a tad on the over-ripe side of things - all sorts of huge, dark fruit that I can find to be a bit stewed - but this blend was a little more subdued than their more premium Meritage blend, Mirage. Boo was more than happy to find a little more wine still in the bottle when he went to refill his glass.

1798.  2009 Giesen Marlborough Pinot Noir (Marlborough - New Zealand) 

The Guru brought this Pinot along (from his voluminous collection) and I think he might have discovered Giesen the same way that I did - at the Vancouver International Wine Festival a couple of years back. I think they've gained a bit of a foothold in the local market with their good value entry level wines. I don't get to sit back and sip with The Guru very often but I'm always intrigued to see what wine he brings along whenever we do get the chance. Interesting to see that he earmarked Giesen as well. - particularly since he's quite the pinotphile.

For some unfathomable reason, a lot of Vixen's gifts involved alcohol. Perhaps, in an odd way, she does take after her big bro. I know she was taken with the bottle of Marilyn Merlot that Boo and I gave her. Vixen has long had a jones for Marilyn Monroe. This was a perfect way to indulge two of her Vixen's great loves. I'm hoping she's going to open it when I'm around and can add it to The List.

Just prior to the slide show, gifts and cake, however, I presented Vixen with another special gift - and we immediately popped the cork - plastic though it was. Funny thing was that Vixen knew what it was before she'd even opened the gift bag.

1799.  N.V. Andrès Baby Duck (Canada)

As defined by Urban Dictionary: "cheap wine...younger kids drink it now for recreation. Older folks can't believe it's still around."

You would be correct if you raised your eyebrows, and thought this doesn't seem like a bottle that a supposed wine lover would celebrate with, when you saw a bottle of Baby Duck being added to The List. This particular bottle was given to me by Vixen when I turned (ahem) 39+ as a joke (I think). Surprisingly, we weren't quick to pop the cork. As I kept having to dust the bottle as time passed, I decided I might as well keep it and give it back to Vixen on her birthday.

Not many bottles of Baby Duck are aged for six years before they're opened. So, this is a very special bottle and, I feel, deserves to be on The List - even if it isn't as high falutin' as some other that have been added. I don't think, however, that Baby Duck is supposed to be as tawny coloured as this one was. Isn't it normally pinkish or something like that? In any event, there weren't many takers but Vixen and I toasted each other and then we added some Aperol and Orangiata to make a sort of Spritzer. It wasn't exactly the same as relaxing on a Venetian piazza, but it was tolerable enough that my niece, Stargirl, and her roommate, Five of Seven, each had a glass as well.

Baby Duck. Go figure. I'm just glad that it wasn't my #1800 bottle added to The List. Can you imagine the shame? As fortune would have it, #1800 was a pretty special bottle - but in a different manner from the Baby Duck being "special." Worthy of being a landmark number on The List, I'd say.

1800.  N.V. G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut (Champagne AOC - France)

We were pretty much down to immediate family by the time we popped the cork on the Mumm's. Vixen had brought this, thinking we might toast her b-day during dinner, and who were we to deny her that pleasure? I don't think you need me to tell you that the Cordon Rouge was head-and-shoulders better than the Baby Duck.

As tasty as the Mumm's was - and as fun as the gift opening and the slide show of Vixen's (ahem) years, the biggest screams of the night emanated from the kitchen when Vixen tried on Elzee's shoes - only to discover that they not only fit but that they were Manolo Blaniks. After watching countless seasons of Sex & The City, even I know that this is a big thing for gals that love shoes. Vixen certainly qualifies for that. I don't think, however, that Elzee agreed to loan them out - and I know she definitely wore them home that night.

All the same, Vixen was thrilled with her party and I'm pretty stoked to find out that (even if we didn't know it at the time) we celebrated another landmark number in the Odyssey with a stellar bottle of wine.

I'm going to keep much better track as the last landmark numbers approach so that I can give them their proper due. Now, I just have to find a way that I can keep a promise to stay ahead with my writing the actual blog posts. Given past history, that might not be as easy. Here's hoping.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gaaaaarrrrnacha Day?

Just as I didn't know we were drinking #1700 awhile back, I had no idea (at the time) that I was hitting the seven-eighths mark of this Odyssey when I pulled the cork on this bottle.

Had I known, it might have merited a bit of fanfare.

Oh well, good thing it was International Grenache Day and I'd decided to open a one-of-a-kind bottle (at least for me) that I'd had in the cellar for a bit. Not only that, it was also International Talk Like a Pirate Day - one of my favourite days of the year. So, I rather combined the two into International G'arrrrrrrrnacha Day. What, with Garnacha being the Spanish name for Grenache, it was the perfect way to incorporate "arrrrrrrrrgh" into the evening's wine.

1750.  2005 The Colonial Estate - Alexander Laing Single Vineyard Old Vine Grenache (Barossa Valley - Australia)

Lucky for us, this turned out to be a hidden treasure from the cellar. I couldn't recall where or when I'd picked up the bottle because The Colonial Estate is not a winery that I've seen in our market. It was always possible that the winery had made a one-off appearance at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, but I found a note that this was a wine that Boo and I had picked up a couple of years back when we were visiting his Mom and brother in North Carolina. Considering we can only bring two bottles each back over the border with us (WTF? I know), there must have been something in the wine shop that caught my eye about this one. I see that it did get big points (94) from Parker but I'm not normally a point chaser.

In any event, whatever caught my eye worked because we were greeted by a lovely, boisterous nose that was matched by all sorts of dark, complex fruit on the palate. There was enough going for this wine that it could tempt a pirate to give up his rum.

The Colonial Estate website doesn't give a whole lot of information about the background or heritage of the winery, but the descriptive page for the Alexander Laing Grenache did say that it "owes its existence to the blocks of weather beaten bush vines that survived the vine pull out at the end of the last century." Weather beaten bush vines, sounds rather appropriate for a pirate.

Maybe next year, if the two "international days" co-incide again, I'll look to promote it as International Drink Like a Pirate Day. That could be telling.

In the meantime, with only 250 bottles to go (okay, 251), I may have completed my Odyssey by this time next year AND I may have given up drinking altogether. Then again, it's just as likely that I could be made to walk the plank off the coast of Somalia before then. I certainly hope to still be drinking after I've "concluded" the blog's task. Just let me run into a little more Colonial Estate. Please.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Spinifex and Fireworks

Photo from 

Normally, that fireworks photo would have been one of our own and I wouldn't have lifted if from Huffington Post, but as you'll see with the post, my bloglife is a little out of skew nowadays - and desperate times call for desperate measures.

I'm what we'll call "hazardously behind" in my postings. I haven't lost count of the wines we've polished off, we just seem to drink them faster than I'm able to blog about them. So, I'm going to do a little jumping over some wines - while hitting a few memorable wines - with the idea of staying more current AND then catching up with the earlier posts as time permits.

As the day we pull the cork on my 2001st bottle starts seeming a whole lot closer at hand, I'm hoping to keep better tabs on the number of the bottles as we open them. I really had no idea that Boo and I were enjoying a landmark bottle #1700 as we were sipping away.  We might have made more of an event for it had I known.

Luckily, it turned out to be a memorable bottle and a fun evening in any event - although Boo opted to call it a night after the wine.

1700.  2004 Spinifex Esprit (Barossa Valley - Australia)

Spinifex is a relatively new winery to set up shop in the Barossa. It's owners, Peter Schell and Magali Gely, started the winey in 2001. In doing so, however, they decided to pay respect to Magali's French roots. Their website notes that Magali's parents were vignerons in the south-west of France and that Peter has worked six vintages throughout France over the last decade. The pair work primarily with Rhône grapes that have traditionally been successful in both the Mediterranean and in Australia.

Spinifex chooses to make wines that are predominantly blends and Esprit fits right into that scheme. With 36% Grenache, 34% Shiraz, 20% Mataro (Mourvèdre), they've constructed that Barossan take on the Rhône blend - the well known GSM - but they've ramped up the Rhône by adding a 10% touch of Cinsault.

Although it might take me awhile to actually get around to writing the post, Boo and I had a thoroughly enjoyable Châteauneuf-du-Pape last night and, while this Esprit is primarily the same take on grapes involved, it had bigger fruit but was equally tasty.

I figure we're lucky that Marquis Wines has carried a few Spinifex wines over the years because they don't make an awful lot of wine. A Robert Parker reference on this vintage of Esprit said that only 330 cases were made. I don't even think the winery is big enough to have its own cellar door. When Boo and I were in Barossa a couple of years back, we didn't see the winery itself but we did taste a couple of their wines at the Artisans of the Barossa - a cooperative tasting room for a group of "small batch, sub-regional" winemakers. I'm more than happy to grab a bottle or two by whichever method we can run across them.

So, I figure opening #1700 is worthy of the fireworks display at the top of the post on its own; however, the evening was the third night of this year's Celebration of Light fireworks display. Boo decided against fighting the crowds downtown to watch Japan's entry but I ventured down to Mr. D's.

I figure the photo above would have approximated what we'd have seen from his apartment. After all, it is of the evening's show. However, we didn't even stick around to watch the fireworks. Since it was the Saturday night of Vancouver's Pride weekend, Mr. D. proposed a visit to one of the local watering holes and he figured we wouldn't be able to take in both the fireworks and the bar as the line-up to get into Pumpjack would have been down the block by the time the last firework rocket had been launched. We decided to see if we could enjoy some fireworks of an even more intimate nature and just head straight off to the pub. Running into Will and Harry and a few other boys was a great start.

Unfortunately, from the blog's point of view, there wasn't another bottle of wine to be had. Funny, but I hardly think that a leather bar is going to be the best place to find a bottle of wine. But we did see a firework or two - particularly Mr. D. I think I might just leave that photo to your imagination though. No need to post it and detract from the wine at hand.

So, with 1700 bottles down, I've got my work laid out for me to try and get all my posts in order by the time number 2001 rolls around. Best get to it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

An Anniversary Delight

Okay, now I know that something's definitely going on with the camera. There's no chance that I wouldn't have taken a picture of this bottle or the event (that is, except for the shot on Delectable). It's a rare occasion that I pop the cork on a $100+ bottle of wine. But, if your anniversary doesn't count as one of those "pull that cork" events, I don't know what does. I must have taken a picture or two. They're just nowhere to be found.

1668.  2001 Domaine de la Solitude - Cuvée Barberini (Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC - Rhône - France)

I picked this wine up at the Vancouver International Wine Festival a couple of years back. Not being in the habit of buying $100+ wines, I have have to be pretty darned sure that I know what's in the bottle - and that we're going to really, really like it - before I pull out my wallet. The Festival tasting was the perfect opportunity to both discover the wine and know that I wanted more. I went back to try this wine at least three or four times and I sent many a friend over to the winery table when they asked "What have your favourite wines been so far?"

I don't believe that Domaine de la Solitude can normally be found in the Vancouver market and, if memory serves, this might have even been their first visit to the Festival. I don't know if there are many wineries in the Rhône that can claim family ties that truly bind the family to the very reason for the name of the Châteuneuf-du-Pape region. Operated by the Martin and Barberini families for centuries, one of the Barberini's took office in Rome as Pope Urban VIII and two of his nephews became Cardinals. This was in the early 1600's and this was also when "a part of the family then settled down in Avignon." I should think that, if anyone is entitled to make Châteauneuf-du-Pape, it's a family that can claim a Pope as one of its own - particularly since the family was making wine at their vineyard before the name Châteauneuf-du-Pape even existed.

As my sister, Vixen, is always very happy to point out, if Boo and I were involved in the making of wine, we'd be making Châteauneuf-du-Poof.

I could only hope that it would be as tasty as this wine. You might say that the Cuvée Barberini is one of the winery's premium bottles - although they do produce a bottle that goes for almost double the price of this one. Like Port or Champagne, this wine is only made in years deemed worthy of a vintage designation. After this 2001 bottling, another vintage of Cuvée Barberini wasn't released until 2004.

If the wine didn't already have a venerable name like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, they could have gone with the Aussie moniker, GSM, because the 2001 blend was "simple" with 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 20% Mourvèdre.

Balanced and integrated with dark fruit and smooth tannins, the wine could have aged for years to come, but it was drinking beautifully already.

I could do with more anniversary wines, more often.

Friday, July 4, 2014


1667.  2009 Bodega Santa Julia - Magna (Mendoza - Argentina)

Once again, I can't seem to find a shot of this wine except the one that I took for a Delectable entry. Good thing I get as many wines onto that site as I do.

I don't know much about Santa Julia but a quick online search show that it was established in early 1990's and is one of the labels produced by the Zuccardi Family - owners of one of Argentina's largest family-owned wineries. Now, the Zuccardi name I'm more familiar with. I know that you can find at least a couple of their wines in this blog and on The List.

The Magna is a blend of Cab Sauv (50%), Malbec (40%) and Syrah (10%) and is a step above the great assortment of Argentine brand wines that can be found in our Vancouver market. Around $16 to $20, it's a few bucks more than some of its entry level competitors but this is a big, fruit forward blend that's got the heft to knock out some of brand name Malbecs on our shelves.

Glad I had the Delectable entry to recall the wine and bottle.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Delectable Pinot Gris

Where did all the photos go? It seems that, as soon as Merlot Boy and Margarita boarded a plane to take the #2Kangaroo Tour for a week of adventure in NYC, I forgot how the camera worked. Despite probably my needing to de-tox after spending a week with the Aussies, Boo and I did continue to enjoy a glass or two while we awaited their return. I just can't find any pictures of what we drank - except for a few on my phone or those that I downloaded onto my Delectable account.

1666.  2012 Nichol Pinot Gris (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

There's a lot of Pinot Gris produced in British Columbia. Indeed, it's the most widely planted white grape variety in the province - and it's easy to find a range of styles, from bone dry to light and fruity with a touch of sweet.

I've always like Nichol Vineyards' somewhat unique take on the grape.

Although Pinot Gris was named after a gray-ish tone often found to its skin ("gris" being French for "grey"), the grape's colouring can vary a fair bit - from a deep golden yellow through copper to brownish pink and darker. That colouring permits wineries - like Nichol and its neighbour Kettle Valley - to leave the crushed juice on its skins for a bit of time to impart some additional body, flavour ... and colour. For this 2012 vintage, the back label says that the juice is given "up to 36 hours of skin contact" - and you could easily mistake it for a Rosé.

Nichol's style also differs somewhat in that they also ferment a portion of their Pinot Gris in neutral, French oak, thereby adding a touch more body and complexity.

I think this is the fourth vintage of Nichol's Pinot Gris that I'm adding to The List. So, I won't go on any further about the winery or their Pinot Gris, but I can add a link to a post I wrote back in 2011 when the 2009 vintage was added as #904. You can easily head there for a little more extensive account should you desire.

Me, I'd like to find out why I don't have any photos for a whack of wines. Like I need another delay factor in my writing here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An Aussie Touch to Canada Day

It might be not quite as celebrated as our Christmas Dine Around but the Canada Day BBQ has now become a reliable tradition in the neighbourhood as well. Not only is it a great opportunity to kibbutz with the gang but, because we're able to congregate outside as well as in, we can expand our numbers over our December do. The BBQ allows neighbours from up the block to join us, provides an opportunity for travelling Aussies to join in and gives us a chance to catch up some some old buds who have up and moved away.

The latter folks may have abandoned us on a day-to-day basis but there's one or two that we still like enough to invite back to the hood.

So long as they bring a potluck item and some booze.

1662.  2012 Red Rooster Pinot Gris (VQA Okanagan Valley)

1663.  2008 La Frenz Rattlesnake Vineyard Merlot (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

It may well have been Canada Day but Boo and I seemed to be the only ones that brought along Canadian wines. I always say that I enjoy seeing what other folks bring along to the party - probably because there are often some interesting and/or surprising choices.

Red Rooster and La Frenz wines are certainly no surprise as additions to The List. Both have been producing enjoyable wines on the Naramata Bench for years now - and Boo and I still participate in the Adopt-A-Row program that Red Rooster promotes. As such, we kind of have a bottle or two of their wines around. Our row at Red Rooster may be planted with Malbec grapes but we're equal opportunity drinkers when it comes to their wines. So, the Pinot Gris called out as a wine for the sun and fun. Since this was a party for neighbours, I figured I'd grab a bottle of La Frenz as well since they're just down the road from Red Rooster on the Bench. With this one, I figured I should give our in transit Aussie, Merlot Boy, an idea of what BC Merlot can be like. He did not turn down a second glass.

I think both wineries are fine ambassadors for BC and Canadian winemakers.

1664.  2012 Barone Montalto - Nero d'Avola Cabernet Sauvignon (Sicily IGT - Italy)

With Boo's pulled pork in good supply and Mr. Principled grilling sausages left, right and centre, it's probably a good thing that someone brought along a big ol' Sicilian red. Our neighbourhood may not exactly be the Little Italy that it was decades ago but I'm sure there's been more than a few botti's worth of Italian wines thrown back in the immediate vicinity.

I didn't know this producer at all but it's interesting to see more Sicilian wines showing up in our market. It'll be even more interesting to see if that new stream of wines sticks to Sicily's indigenous grapes - like Nero d'Avola - or if more of the international grapes start showing up in their wines, either as varietal wines or blends.

One thing that you can pretty well be guaranteed about at our neighbourhood events is that there won't be a shortage of food. We rather tend to take the word "potluck" to mean "keep eating because with any luck you won't notice any increase in the size of your pot belly." From salads to corn on the cob to cupcakes and sweets, we can pretty much be assured of pleasing vegetarian, kosher and carnivorous diets.

We haven't quite mastered the All Canada, All Dance party playlist yet, but we do serve up everything from Stan Rogers through kd lang and from Bublé to Arcade Fire. Not to mention the old Hockey Night in Canada theme song.

1665.  2012 19 Crimes - Shiraz Durif (Victoria - Australia)

If I had to guess (which I don't), I'd put a couple bucks on the fact that our 2Kangaroos brought along the 19 Crimes. Merlot Boy hadn't run across this wine back home in Oz and he was intrigued by what the label was marketing to Canadians: that many of the new settlers to Australia were criminals.

As if we didn't know all of that already.

Canada Day or not, I'm always in favour of an Aussie Shiraz. If I can send a few bucks down their way, so be it. Anything, you know, to build on our two countries' great friendship.  Besides, what goes better with a slab of barbecued meat than some juice from Down Under? That, and a big, fruity wine is just an epitome of our buddy, Merlot Boy.

I'm sure there must have been a few other wines served up during the day but these four were the only ones that I got around to trying. Since July 1st fell on a Tuesday this week, I was going to need to be at work bright and early in the morning and, therefore, needed to behave.

Besides, if there wasn't enough wine already, there was a full array of craft beers that made their way to the party as well. And, as good a boy as I might have been striving to be, I'm hardly going to turn down an opportunity to try a taste of what's in 49th Parallel's Banana Hammock.

And, on that happy was time to lower the flag and head off to catch a few winks.